There must be more to love, more than this.
When Arden stumbles upon the online musings of Peter, a young new York City writer, it feels to her that she’s finally found a kindred spirit. His blog gives voice to feelings that Arden has never known to express and she’s convinced that, if they met, he would understand her in a way that no one else does.
So she sets out on a road trip to find him.
During one crazy night in New York – the type of night when anything can happen and nearly everything does – Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was either.
This book starts off with:
Like all stories, the one you are about to read is a love story.
If it wasn’t, what would be the point?
I’ve been feeling a little bit slumpy lately. I’ve read a string of average books and I just wasn’t excited to read, so I thought what better way to get me out of this hole of blahness than to pick up a cute contemporary? As promised, Tonight The Streets Are Ours is a love story, but it wasn’t the love story that I had expected. It’s a novel about loving yourself, first and foremost, and loving others in a way that brings out the best in them and the best in yourself.
Despite what the blurb of the book says, the road trip and the crazy night in New York City takes up only a small part of the book. For the first 200 pages, we get to see glimpses of Arden’s present and stories about her past. We see the relationships she has forged and the person she is. Arden is the person who is there for everyone. When others need her help, she is there for them. When her best friend, Lindsey, gets into trouble, Arden is there to get her out of the mess even if it means that she is the receiver of all of the negative consequences.
Lindsey would need, and Arden would deliver.
But Arden comes to realise that perhaps the people in her life don’t love her as much as she loves them. That maybe they wouldn’t do for her what she does for them. And worst of all, that maybe they don’t appreciate what she does for them. She turns to the internet to find the answers and stumbles upon Peter’s blog. She connects deeply with his story and becomes obsessed with reading his blog. One day, she throws caution to the wind and decides to take a road trip to NYC to find Peter… only to realise that people aren’t always who they seem to be and that everyone has their own story, including herself.
Just like Arden was obsessed with Peter’s story, I was invested in Arden’s. I loved learning about her past and hearing all her little anecdotes. She became a very important person to me and I wanted to know what happened to her next. The story jumps back and forth in time and I loved that we were able to see how the events in her past have shaped her into the person she is now. Even though the plot doesn’t really start rolling until about 200 pages in, I was never bored and I just wanted to keep reading.
The novel is quite fast-paced despite the fact that nothing much happens until the last third of the book. There are a lot of blog entries, where we get to know more about Peter and his story, and this kept the book interesting for me. I also really loved the chapter titles. They were almost like one-line summaries of the chapter, e.g. ‘Everything Falls Apart’, ‘Arden Gets More Than She Bargained For’, etc. They really kept me hooked and I just could not stop reading because I was so curious about what would happen next. Because I was so invested in Arden’s story, I also loved that this book was completely resolved and does not have an open ending.
The characters are very complex and multi-faceted. Nobody is exactly like who you’d expect them to be and I think this is an important message. What people show you is only a fraction of who they are, and you are more than just one attribute. Arden learns that there’s more to her than kindness and loyalty and that she doesn’t have to be defined by those qualities. She can still be loyal and kind to her friends and family but she doesn’t have to give all of herself to do that.
“Other people matter hugely. But you have to matter to yourself too.”
I didn’t love all of the characters in this book. Some were very dislikable but I think that’s part of why I loved this book. There isn’t just one side to anybody. People can be horrible but they have redeeming qualities too, and I thought Leila Sales did a great job at developing all these characters. Having said that, I really liked Arden and I really connected with her. She’s a romantic at heart and she just wants the best for everyone, and who doesn’t love a character like that?
Even though I had expected and wanted a light, fluffy contemporary romance, I fell in love with this book. It has a great message about doing good things for people but not sacrificing yourself for them. It was a refreshing love story, one not about romance but about taking care of yourself and loving yourself. I highly, highly, highly recommend Tonight The Streets Are Ours!